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More Funds Requested for NY Nursing-Home Oversight

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Monday, January 24, 2022   

Advocates for older New Yorkers say Gov. Kathy Hochul's proposed executive budget leaves people living in nursing homes behind, by not addressing a key program.

AARP New York and other groups working on behalf of seniors said $20 million is needed for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which serves as an independent advocate for nursing-home residents and their families.

Bill Ferris, legislative representative for AARP New York, said the program is underfunded and understaffed, and the residents it serves deserve more, especially during a pandemic.

"And unfortunately, 15,000 residents died in nursing homes," Ferris pointed out. "In AARP's opinion, we really need to beef up the voice of the resident, in the facilities all across New York."

A 2019 report by the State Comptroller's Office found 30% of the long-term care facilities in New York had not been visited by an ombudsman. The comptroller's audit also confirmed a need for additional funding.

If the governor does not add more money for the ombudsman program in the next few weeks, Ferris emphasized the groups will continue to push for it with lawmakers.

"AARP and other aging organizations that we're working with across the state will go to the Legislature to educate them on this program, the problem," Ferris explained. "And advocate for the Legislature to put on the table $20 million to be included in a final budget."

He noted AARP New York is also concerned about other areas affecting older New Yorkers, such as a power-shutoff moratorium for those who fall behind on utility bills, and more effort to lower prescription costs. The state budget is due March 31.

Ferris added AARP looks forward to working with the governor on her anticipated "Master Plan for Aging," which would create alternatives to nursing homes and institutional care.

"We have to prepare for them and make sure that they age and stay in New York, and age with dignity and independence, and in their homes as long as possible," Ferris urged.

According to the New York Office for the Aging, the state's 60-plus population is projected to grow to more than 5.3 million by 2030.

Disclosure: AARP New York contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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